Canadian rock Legend Tom Cochrane tells Zoomer's Mike Crisolago about his new disc, Take It Home, his encounter with Terry Fox and how his life is, once again, becoming a highway.
MIKE CRISOLAGO: Your new album, Take It Home, is your first solo effort in nine years. How did it come about?
TOM COCHRANE: Somebody said that I had said that the last record might be my last but, I guess, they all might be your last. [Laughs] We don’t know. What I basically meant is that unless it means something, I’m not in the business of just crafting songs for the sake of getting them out there. This record – I woke up one day, and it was basically like a bird having the instincts to fly south or north. It just seemed like I had something to say.
[A song] that sort of was a holdover from a few years ago was “Diamonds.” I wrote it for [co-producer Bill Bell’s] wife when they separated. And she, for one reason or another, didn’t do the song, and Bill brought it up. And I said, “You mercenary son of a gun.” He says, “You gotta do this song. It’s a great song.” I said, “Billy, I wrote that for [your wife] when you guys broke up.” And he said, “Yeah, but I think you’d do a great job with it.” So, I tried it and it worked.
MC: Is your desire to wait until it “means something” the reason there’s more time between your albums now than in the past?
TC: I think things do come a little bit more fast and furious when you’re younger. I really don’t have to make a record but I want to make a record. Whereas, back then, I think it was a real good dose of both. You kind of go through the process where you live life to whatever extent you live it, you write it down and then record it, and then you go out and promote it, and then you tour it and then you’re out of a job. Then the process starts over again.
I think I did a lot of good writing back then but, you know, you didn’t always hit the mark. And I look at this record and I’m pretty proud of each and every song … It just sort of runs the gamut and, in some strange way, it hangs together proudly because … there have been a lot of influences that I sort of pay homage to on this record. Hence the title, Take It Home.
MC: How have you witnessed the music landscape change over the course of your career?
TC: A big part of it, obviously, is digital technology right across the board. Now we can do a lot of stuff on our laptop. The irony of the big trick is we have all this stuff to make it sound old because I was kind of painstaking in my quest to make the record sound analog. The performances were natural.
[Social media] has changed it phenomenally. Now, really, the record is a poster for the tour. So, in that way it’s taking it home, too, because isn’t touring and isn’t live where everything started? Whether it was jazz or whether it was rock 'n' roll or whether it was folk music, that’s where it started. And that’s where it’s meant to truly come alive, when you play it live. So it’s sort of a natural process in a roundabout way, backwards, to the roots of the music. We’re not depending on sales. I was one of a handful of Canadians that went diamond, with Mad Mad World, and that was a bygone era now. You just don’t see that anymore.
In a roundabout way, I’m saying that I made this record for the love of it and because I want to get out and play these songs live.
MC: Speaking of touring, is it as much fun now in your 60s as it was in your 20s and 30s?
TC: [Laughs] I’ll let you know. We’re doing 16 shows, and I’m doing quite a bit of media. I haven’t done that for five or six years. It’s just a matter of pacing it. You’ve got to be a bit like an athlete, so that part of it is a little tougher than 20 or 30 years ago. Although 20 or 30 years ago, you tend to party more, you don’t really know how to pace yourself as well as perhaps I do now. I’m a wily ol’ veteran, I guess. [Laughs]
It’s amazing. I mean, you see [Bob] Dylan out there. Over the last 10 years, and continuous, he basically lives on the road. And same with Willie [Nelson]. And the way Johnny Cash had resurgence in his early 60s and that when he was around, God bless him … you tend to get that second wind I guess.
NEXT PAGE: Tom's favourite tour stops and his encounter with Terry Fox
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